A few times a week I get to pound on my piano keyboard while swaying side to side. It is one of my favorite things to do, above riding the shcooter, but below meeting Amy Grant. The latter hasn’t happened yet, so keyboarding remains at the top of the list for now.
On Sunday night, some friends and I met in an auditorium to sing songs with our eyes closed. It was a worship night at church, which meant no one preached from the pulpit, but we all sang songs to claim truth for ourselves.
I got to pound on my keyboard while others strummed guitars, clapped their hands, or crossed arms over chest. Some people opened their hands up in the air as if preparing to receive something.
Really, we were all just doing what we could to make ourselves awake to God. And I think worship nights are so convenient, because God gets to show up to one place and intervene in so many areas at once. He is an efficient multi-tasker.
One of the very first worship songs I learned as a kid was “Father Abraham.” It is a multi-tasking song where you sing and add coordinating movements with each verse. Right hand swinging—-then left—right foot— left foot— bob your head— turn around— sit down!
In children’s church, praising the Lord was immediately followed by a snack of animal crackers or goldfish. I assumed that this was because the leaders wanted to keep our energy levels up for the altar call.
Looking back, I wonder if all children who grew up in church misunderstood God to be deaf. Each song was paired with animated hand motions, and children were encouraged to sing so loudly that our eyes became bloodshot from shouting. In home videos, I noticed that shy children would cover their ears and weep through the whole thing.
I assumed that all that shouting and hand-motioning helped me get on God’s radar early and provided some sort of invisible advantage for life.
Multi-tasking sing-alongs have been second nature to me ever since. Wide-awake worship always makes me want to do something with my hands.
One of the privileges of onstage keyboard-pounding is the upfront view of diverse worship. Everyone has a different waking posture to God, but on Sunday night I saw one of the loveliest of all.
I have this friend that is kind and gentle and notice-from-across-the-room beautiful. She is the type of mom that makes parenthood look fulfilling, even on the days it is pure chaos.
This friend was sitting in the front row on Sunday night. She wasn’t standing because her sweet daughter was in the service, sitting on her lap, and behaving admirably. As my pretty friend worshipped from her seat, she closed her eyes, held her daughter with one hand, and reached to the sky with the other.
She was worshipping with her hands full, and I thought; “Now that is multi-tasking worship.”
It seems that gatherings for church or community or anything else are really intended for meaningful multi-tasking. They give us something to do with our hands while we come awake to God.
I’m glad we gain grown-up hand motions by the time we outgrow the childhood ones. The truth is that I still love singing Father Abraham or any other song with hand motions. I crush the Y-M-C-A at weddings and clap my hands raw during the Electric Slide.
Multi-tasking makes me feel fully invested, which is why I continue to practice while refueling with animal crackers and goldfish.
Some old habits were never meant to be outgrown.